Welcome to my blog about the books featured on BBC Radio 4
Welcome to my blog page all about the books being featured on BBC Radio 4 programmes. My aim is to provide you with a complete listing of the books with relevant links to where you can find them on Amazon and Audible for example and links to other relevant detailed blog posts. This will give you a change to post comments and discuss what we are hearing on Radio 4.
John McGahernm Amongst Women
‘A book that can be read in two hours, but will linger in the mind for decades.’ Sunday Telegraph
Once an officer in the Irish War for Independence, Moran is now a widower, eking out a living on a small farm where he raises his two sons and three daughters. Adrift from the structure and security of the military, he keeps control by binding his family close to him. But as his children grow older and seek independence, and as the passing years bring with them bewildering change, Moran struggles to find a balance between love and tyranny.
‘One of the greatest writers of our era.’ Hilary Mantel
‘John McGahern is the Irish novelist everyone should read.’ Colm Tóibín
Motherwell: A Girlhood by Deborah Orr
Book of the week January 27th 2020
Read by Siobhan Redmond
Abridger by Julian Wilkinson
The late journalist Deborah Orr was born and bred in the Scottish steel town of Motherwell, in the west of Scotland. Growing up the product of a mixed marriage, with an English mother, she was often a child on the edge of her working class community, a ‘weird child’, who found solace in books, nature and in her mother’s company. But her mother’s shadow was long and often controlling – Deborah was not always mothered well.
In her powerful and poignant memoir Deborah Orr explores the effects of her strict parenting and her own strong desire for independence and autonomy which led her to flee her roots, first to St Andrews University, with mixed results, and then to her hugely successful career as a journalist and writer in London. She also paints a vivid portrait of the place and the community around the steel works of Ravenscraig – the hub of her world in the sixties and seventies.
‘Motherwell is razor-sharp, fearless and wonderful’
‘Utterly unflinching and staggeringly good, both as the history of a woman and the history of a place’
The Food Programme: Featuring Jack Monroe, the Tin Can Cook
BBC Radio 4 The Food Programme, Yes we Can: What do the tins we eat say about the UK? Sheila Dillon January 19th 2020
This was an interesting edition of The Food Programme looking at our perceptions of tinned food in the UK at the moment. While slightly in decline almost every household and shopping basket will contain one or more tins of food, from baked beans, tomatoes, fish and soup. The programme highlighted how they are a great way to preserve food when it’s at its best and also highlights the environmental benefits of how recyclable tin cans are and how they cut down on food waste.
Sheila interviews Jack Monroe who has created a cookery book of quick and easy recipes that can be assembled from tinned food found in most store cupboards.
An exuberant rebuttal to the idea that good food must be expensive, farm-fresh and unprocessed.’
‘At a time when good food can often be seen as rather elitist or exclusive, Jack has done an excellent job to create recipes which are simple, straightforward and delicious.’
Coming Up for Air by George Orwell
Book at Bedtime January 13th 2020, Abridged by Ellin Stein, Read by Tim McInnerny, Produced by Clive Brill
An overweight, married, middle-aged insurance salesman surveys his life while reflecting on the country he finds himself living in. George Orwell’s novel is read by Tim McInnerny.
Written in 1939, Coming Up For Air was published just before the outbreak of the Second World War and offers premonitions of the impending conflict with images of an idyllic Thames-side Edwardian-era childhood at the same time as taking a rather dim view of capitalism and its effects on the best of rural England.
The reviews were among the best that Orwell had received for a novel. It sold 3,000 copies – a considerable improvement on the response to his previous works.
Why Women Read Fiction by Helen Taylor
Read on Radio 4 by Lucy Briers, from January 13th 2020
Ian McEwan once said,
‘When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.’
This book explains how precious fiction is to contemporary women readers, and how they draw on it to tell the stories of their lives. Female readers are key to the future of fiction and―as parents, teachers, and librarians―the glue for a literate society. Women treasure the chance to read alone, but have also gregariously shared reading experiences and memories with mothers, daughters, grandchildren, and female friends. For so many, reading novels and short stories enables them to escape and to spread their wings intellectually and emotionally.
This book, written by an experienced teacher, scholar of women’s writing, and literature festival director, draws on over 500 interviews with and questionnaires from women readers and writers. It describes how, where, and when British women read fiction, and examines why stories and writers influence the way female readers understand and shape their own life stories. Taylor explores why women are the main buyers and readers of fiction, members of book clubs, attendees at literary festivals, and organisers of days out to fictional sites and writers’ homes. The book analyses the special appeal and changing readership of the genres of romance, erotica, and crime. It also illuminates the reasons for British women’s abiding love of two favourite novels, Pride and Prejudice and JaneEyre. Taylor offers a cornucopia of witty and wise women’s voices, of both readers themselves and also writers such as Hilary Mantel, Helen Dunmore, Katie Fforde, and Sarah Dunant. The book helps us understand why―in Jackie Kay’s words―’our lives are mapped by books.’
The Drop by Mick Herron
Book at Bedtime, Read by John Heffernan, Abridged by Eileen Horne
January 6th 2020
‘It is time Mick Herron was recognised in his own right as the best thriller writer in Britain today’
Old spooks carry the memory of tradecraft in their bones, and when Solomon Dortmund sees an envelope being passed from one pair of hands to another in a Marylebone cafe, he knows he’s witnessed more than an innocent encounter. But in relaying his suspicions to John Bachelor, who babysits retired spies like Solly, he sets in train events which will alter lives. Bachelor himself, a hair’s breadth away from sleeping in his car, is clawing his way back to stability; Hannah Weiss, the double agent whose recruitment was his only success, is starting to enjoy the secrets and lies her role demands; and Lech Wicinski, an Intelligence Service analyst, finds that a simple favour for an old acquaintance might derail his career. Meanwhile, Lady Di Taverner is trying to keep the Service on an even keel, and if that means throwing the odd crew member overboard, well: collateral damage is her speciality.
A drop, in spook parlance, is the passing on of secret information.
It’s also what happens just before you hit the ground.
Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James
Read on Radio 4 by Clive James, from December 30th 2019 to Saturday 4th January 2020
From the Back Cover
I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment that did not affect me.
In the first instalment of Clive James’s memoirs, we follow the young Clive on his journey from boyhood to the cusp of manhood, when his days of wearing short trousers are finally behind him. Battling with school, girls, various relatives and an overwhelming desire to be a superhero, Clive’s adventures growing up in the suburbs of post-war Sydney are hair-raising, uproarious and almost too good to be true . . .
Told with James’s unassailable sense of humour and self-effacing charm, Unreliable Memoirs is a hilarious and touching introduction to the story of a national treasure. A million-copy bestseller, this classic memoir is a celebration of life in all its unpredictable glory.
‘Do not read this book in public. You will risk severe internal injuries from trying to suppress your laughter. What’s worse, you can’t put it down once started. Its addictive powers stun all normal decent resistance within seconds. Not to be missed.’
Rabbit, Run by John Updike
Weekend Book at Bedtime, Read by Toby Jones, Abridged by Eileen Horne, Produced by Clive Brill.
December 2019 / January 2020.
The post-war novel that summed up middle-class white America and established John Updike as the major American author of his generation. Rabbit, Run is the first in a virtuoso Pullitzer Prize-wining quintet featuring hapless Harry Angstrom, whom we meet as a 26 year old former high school basketball star and suburban paragon in the midst of a personal crisis.
You can find it on Amazon UK from £4.99 – click here.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Erin Morgenstern talks about her fantasy novel The Night Circus with James Naughtie on BBC Radio 4 Book Club January 5th 2020
“Lush, evocative, dreamlike…a magical, coming-of-age story”
The circus arrives without warning. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Against the grey sky the towering tents are striped black and white. A sign hanging upon iron gates reads:
Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn
ERIN MORGENSTERN is the author of The Night Circus, a number-one national bestseller that has been sold around the world and translated into thirty-seven languages. She has a degree in theatre from Smith College and lives in Massachusetts.
You can find the book on Amazon by clicking here.
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